Bruce Brown reveals clues to running Nuggets bench with Bones Hyland in health and safety


BOSTON – About two hours before Friday night’s game against the Celtics, there was nothing whatsoever to suggest that anything was amiss with Bones Hyland.

He conducted his typical pre-game shooting routine, even stepping out some eight feet behind the 3-point line to sharpen his lethal range. He crowed at makes, bemoaned his misses and appeared on track to shepherd Denver’s bench unit against Boston. Shortly thereafter, the team announced he was out due to health and safety protocols and swiftly reminded everyone involved that one minute’s status quo can be the next minute’s disarray.

In stepped hometown kid Bruce Brown, who’s slotted everywhere from point guard to power forward for the Nuggets so far this season. The versatile, switchable ball of energy is an impactful basketball player no matter where Nuggets coach Michael Malone chooses to deploy him. He crashes the glass (10 rebounds vs. Boston), drives the lane like a traditional guard, screens like a big man, cuts like a wing and plays with a relentless motor. And in all likelihood, he’s going to be Denver’s backup point guard until Hyland clears health and safety protocols.

What does that mean, beginning Sunday when the Nuggets’ visit the Bulls?

“Six assists, one turnover is a great place to start,” Malone said following Friday night’s loss to Boston. “… He’s just got to get us organized, run his team. I have to help him with that. He can play the position.”

When Brown slots in alongside Denver’s starters, it’s a relatively easy ask since Nikola Jokic serves as the de-facto point guard and can initiate from anywhere on the court. When Brown is running alongside the second unit – Christian Braun, Michael Porter Jr., Jeff Green and DeAndre Jordan – he’s got an entirely new list of responsibilities.

It’s a good thing Brown said he knows all the plays, from every position, one-through-four.

“When you’re manning that second unit … you also gotta use your voice and get us organized to make sure all five guys are operating as one,” Malone said.

Asked specifically about that in the postgame locker room, Brown shrugged.

“I just gotta talk more, I guess,” he said.

More understated than Hyland, Brown revealed clues as to how he intended to run things.

“There’s always going to be a mismatch out there, so find the mismatch,” he said. “Try to get out in transition with the second unit. I don’t think the second unit should play a lot of halfcourt ball. I think we should push the ball and get out in transition, especially with Bones being out.”


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